Jeff Francoeur

Francoeur to Philly? Burrell to Atlanta? Speculation for now, but let’s make this happen!


Last thing I take out of that Rosenthal column* this morning:

One potential landing spot for Jeff Francoeur: Philadelphia . . . The Braves, again seeking outfield help, are among the clubs that could take a look at Pat Burrell.

Before anyone goes nuts, remember: there’s a difference between an actual rumor and a reporter playing the “this guy would be a good fit here” game.  So much of that latter stuff gets repeated as actual news when, really, it’s nothing more than people chatting to kill the time.  That said:

  • Both would make some amount of sense in that Frenchy can at least pretend to be the right-handed portion of a platoon and Burrell, for all of the holes in that swing, would actually represent an improvement for the Braves’ atrocious outfield;
  • Rosenthal was the first guy to be talking about the Cliff Lee/Roy Halladay trade last year. At the time everyone thought that was pure speculation too; and
  • While I’d hope that both the Braves and Phillies would aim higher to address their needs, I can’t imagine a situation that would give me more satisfaction than seeing Philly fans go nuts when Francoeur does Jeff Francoeur things. And if Burrell had one big hit to beat Philly in 2011, he’ be worth his salary and strikeouts in schadenfruede value alone.

So, yes, this is just “this guy would fit here stuff” right now. But a boy can dream, can’t he?

*At this point allow me to note that while I do my fair share of criticism of, well, everyone, I am a big fan of Ken Rosenthal. We disagree a lot when it comes to commentary — steroids stuff, competitive balance stuff, etc. — but as a reporter I really dig his work. He’s not always right. No one in the news and rumors game is. But he’s right just as often if not a bit more than most. More importantly, he has what I feel to be the right temperament for the job. You never hear him piling on players or organizations the way so many (myself included, I must admit) so often do.  Personally speaking, he’s unfailingly polite and gracious. I ripped a column of his to shreds once and he sent me an email defending his argument that was way nicer than I deserved. Made me feel like a schmuck. Which is good, because I was being a schmuck. I still behave like a schmuck sometimes, but I try to do it a bit less because as a result of Rosenthal’s graciousness.

I’m not going to canonize the guy or anything — we’re all human, and he’ll likely write something in the next couple of months that will have me tearing what’s left of my hair out — but there are only a handful of reporters who do what he does. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are hostile or arrogant or simply refuse to engage readers, critics and other writers at all. Rosenthal is better than that, and he deserves an occasional shoutout for it.

Game 2 is going to be the poster child for pace of play arguments this winter

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26:  Zach McAllister #34 of the Cleveland Indians is relieved by manager Terry Francona during the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs in Game Two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Getty Images

In August, it was reported that Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred would like to implement pitch clocks, like those in use in the minor leagues for the past two seasons, to improve the pace-of-play at the major league level. You can bet that last night’s Game 2 will be the lead argument he uses against those who would oppose the move.

The game was moved up an hour in order to get it in before an impending storm. By the time the rain finally started falling the game had been going on for three hours and thirty-three minutes. It should’ve been over before the first drop fell, but in all it lasted four hours and four minutes. It ended in, thankfully, only a light rain. The longest nine-inning game in postseason history happened a mere two weeks ago, when the Dodgers and Nationals played for four hours and thirty two minutes. There thirteen pitchers were used. Last night ten pitchers were used. Either way, the postseason games are dragging on even for those of us who don’t mind devoting four+ hours of our night to baseball. It is likely putting off more casual fans just tuning in for the Fall Classic.

It’s not all just dawdling, however. Yes, the pitchers worked slowly and a lot of pitching changes took place, but strikeouts, walks and the lack of balls in play contribute to longer games as well. We saw this both last night and in Game 1, which was no brisk affair despite each starting pitcher looking sharp and not working terribly slowly. Twenty-four strikeouts on Tuesday night had a lot to do with that. Last night featured 20 strikeouts and thirteen — thirteen! — walks. It’s not just that the games are taking forever; the very thing causing them to drag feature baseball’s least-kinetic forms of excitement.

But no matter what the cause for the slower play was — and here it was a combination of laboring pitchers, the lack of balls in play and, of course, the longer commercial breaks in the World Series — Manfred is likely to hold Game 2 up as Exhibit A in his efforts to push through some rules changes to improve game pace and game time. So far, the centerpiece of those efforts is the pitch clock, which has proven to be successful and pretty non-controversial in the minor leagues. It would not surprise me one bit if, at this year’s Winter Meetings in Washington, a rule change in that regard is widely discussed.

Kyle Schwarber is the feel-good story of the 2016 postseason


Most baseball fans and even the Cubs had resigned themselves to most likely not seeing Kyle Schwarber in game action until spring training next year after he suffered a gruesome knee injury in a collision with teammate Dexter Fowler back in early April. Schwarber suffered a fully-torn ACL and LCL in his left leg.

To the surprise of everyone, including manager Joe Maddon, Schwarber was cleared by doctors to play if the Cubs wanted to put him on the World Series roster. So they did. And, boy, are they glad they did it. In preparation, Schwarber saw over 1,000 pitches from machines and pitchers in the Arizona Fall League.

Schwarber essentially crammed for the final exam and unlike most students who do it, it has panned out well thus far. No one was expecting him to look outstanding against Indians ace Corey Kluber in Game 1, but in his first at-bat — his first in the majors since suffering the injury in April — Schwarber worked a 3-1 count before eventually being retired on strikes. Schwarber came back up in the fourth and drilled a Kluber sinker to right field for a two-out double.

In the seventh inning, facing one of the American League’s two scariest left-handed relievers in Andrew Miller, Schwarber worked a full count before drawing a walk. During the regular season, Miller walked exactly one lefty batter. Schwarber made it two. Schwarber would face Miller again in the eighth, going ahead 2-1 before ultimately striking out. He finished 1-for-3 with a walk and a double in the Cubs’ 6-0 loss. Considering the circumstances, that’s amazing.

Schwarber continued his great approach in Game 2 in what turned out to be a 5-1 victory. He struck out against Trevor Bauer in the first inning, but returned to the batter’s box in the third inning and singled up the middle to knock in the Cubs’ second run. Schwarber made it 3-0 in the fifth when he singled up the middle again, this time off of Bryan Shaw, to make it 3-0. Facing Danny Salazar in the sixth, Schwarber drew a four-pitch walk to put runners on first and second base with two outs. Finally, he struck out against Dan Otero in his eighth-inning at-bat, finishing the evening 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles and a walk.

But now, as the Cubs return to Chicago for World Series Games 3, 4, and 5 at Wrigley Field, they have to contest with National League rules, a.k.a. no DH. Will Maddon risk Schwarber’s subpar defense to put his dangerous bat in the lineup? Even if Schwarber is not put in the starting lineup, he can at least serve as a dangerous bat off the bench late in the game when the Indians send out their trio of relievers in Shaw, Miller, and closer Cody Allen. At any rate, what Schwarber has done already in the first two games of the World Series is mighty impressive.